Research: Advice, Opinions Trusted; Display Ads, Not So Much

The research firm Nielsen has released the latest results from seems to be an ongoing study about the trust factor in all forms of paid advertising, ie TV, print, digital, radio.

What’s interesting is how little trust people put in just plain advertising and how much more they do in recommendations from peers.

“Recommendations from people I know” scores highest on trust, at 92 percent of consumers trusting completely or somewhat, while mobile text ads and varying types of online ads rank lowest.

The Nielsen people go on to analyze what works and why, and stresses it is not as simple as giving up on paid, telling the truth or and moving to earned media. “Overcoming the trust deficit in advertising isn’t about making ads that aren’t misleading or exaggerated. It’s about adding in social and owned media experiences in ways that give paid media more legitimacy,  enabling it to work harder for your brand.”

So what does this mean to this medium? Well, for one thing these is clearly more strength in things like useful and relevant paid advertorial, like in medical clinics where the messaging is not just selling, but informing. Digital screens are also the activation point that can drive people to things like the branded websites that the research is showing resonate with consumers. If the smartphones and tablets now have to occupy their dwell times, use the screens to drive people with those devices to dedicated sites (and track the path).

As has been suggested many times and in many ways by people in this sector, it’s a bad idea to think about a network as an island or chute with its own ads and own messaging. It makes a lot more sense to think and sell in terms of how it is a piece of a larger puzzle. And it also makes sense, as the research is saying, to try to make a mark with viewers through things they value, instead of trying to jackhammer them with ad.